Thiruvananthapuram: A team of researchers at IIT-Madras is developing a script called ‘Bharati’, which according to them, will help read every Indian language. A single, unified script for 22 official Indian languages and 1652 dialects, will reduce script barriers, they say. The project was conceived by V. Srinivasa Chakravarthy, a faculty at Computational Neuroscience lab of Department of Biotechnology, three years ago. The team has developed word games to popularise the script and is in the process of developing an app. A private party funds the research.
The script exploits the fact that most Indian languages, though written using 11 scripts, have a common phonetic structure with vowels and consonants. Instead of a separate character for various consonants, it has chosen one base character for each consonant family. A modifying character is used to distinguish different consonants in the same family, like say ka, kha, ga. (Refer picture.) Some sounds may be unique to one language (like ‘Chillu’ letters in Malayalam) and have been introduced as special characters.
It would improve domestic tourism among other things, according to Krishna Bharadwaj M. S., a research associate who is part of the team. At a press conference at Thiruvananthapuram press club on ‘Bharati’ script, he narrated how when he first moved from Thiruvananthapuram, he was lost in Chennai city, as the boards in old buses would only have Tamil. Krishna said that the script would be useful for dyslexic students, as the characters chosen are very simple. When asked if the concept was not against diversity, he said it wasn't as it is an additional script, not a substitute for the existing ones.
It was during an ambitious project, which aims to develop an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software that can recognise various microorganisms, that the idea struck the team. Internationally OCR has been used in automobiles to read road signs. They have been training an Artificial Neural Network to read ‘Bharati Script’, and have achieved over 97% accuracy....